March Happiness Challenge

DECLUTTER!

I bet you don’t realize how much of your stress comes from STUFF.

Cleaning… especially for moms.

Money… need I say more?

Remember.  You’re working for that money, to buy those things.  And everything is overpriced and overrated these days.

It’s gotten to the point where people are so worried about materialistic things… the “American Dream” of having the best stuff.  Take a step back and reevaluate what you actually need.  And think hard about what you actually want!  Then look at what you have.

It might be overwhelming, so I made a list to help.  This month’s challenge is to take a look at everything you have in each of these categories… and start decluttering.  Some things will be pretty simple, like throwing away old food, but for some situations it might help to choose 5 things from that category to toss out.  It doesn’t matter how you do it. The point is to challenge yourself to take a hard look at everything you’re holding on to… and ask yourself if it’s worth the space it’s taking up in your life.  If it’s worth the maintenance and cleaning.  If it’s worth that hour (or way more) of work you did to earn the money to buy it.  If it’s worth you being distracted from life experiences.  If it’s worth the stress.

If the answer is no, throw it out!  It will be hard at first but stick with it and you will be able to tell a huge difference.  I cut out half of the laundry I have to do, as well as dishes and cleaning and organizing.  That alone was worth it for me!

So.  Here is the list, with a few examples.  For other ideas, check out my Pinterest board Minimalism & Life.  I would love to hear any ideas you may have on the subject, so please leave a comment below!!  And don’t forget to share 🙂

  1. Little clutter – junk drawer, purse, etc.
  2. Dishes – Tupperware with no lids, random take out cups, old pots and pans
  3. Decorations – something you can never really find a place for, or just don’t like.  Especially knickknacks.
  4. Keepsakes – keeping some memorabilia is great, but keeping every little scribble your child colors you at 2 years old is a little much.  I’m speaking from experience..
  5. Monthly utilities and bills – for example, we cut out our TV and are sticking with Netflix and other streaming.  So much cheaper.  Then we cut our phone bill in half since we were only using a little bit of data (especially since we have Wifi).  Also think about conserving water and electricity every day, making a food budget, etc.
  6. Clothes – old socks, shirts, scarves… especially the “one day I will fit these” clothes
  7. Toys – be ruthless
  8. Shoes
  9. Accessories – jewelry, scarves, etc.
  10. Bathroom – old toiletries, makeup, clean out the bathroom cabinet and drawers
  11. Subscriptions – things like Xbox Live and Hulu.  If you don’t use it don’t pay for it!
  12. Books
  13. Electronics & cords – especially the ones sitting in a drawer, like old cell phones you’ve upgraded from
  14. Food – fridge door, expired spices, pantry
  15. Linens – old, frayed towels and sheets
  16. Kitchen – appliances you don’t use, cookbooks, etc.
  17. Medicine cabinet – check expiration dates on everything
  18. Storage
  19. Big stuff – furniture, big toys, tools, etc.
  20. Your mind – get rid of the negative thoughts, stress, and all the things that are cluttering your mind and getting in the way of your happiness.

Why my family of 5 went Minimalist – and we are never going back

Let me start by saying this.  Before I watched the Minimalism documentary (which btw, I normally really don’t like documentaries and refuse to watch them with my husband) I didn’t know much about minimalism besides a few things I’ve seen on the internet… Which made it seem more like a style and a fad (white walls, modern expensive furniture) than anything else.  I thought it sounded dumb.

But by the 1st 20 minutes of the video, I was hooked, and we had already made our decision.

Very basic summary:  Minimalism is about focusing less on materialistic things and more on family and experiences.  That’s really the point.  You can actually keep whatever you want, and there’s no set rules you have to follow.  It’s not about the label.  It’s just about intentionally thinking about everything you have, and asking yourself how much value each thing actually has to you.  If it’s something that brings you joy, or you actually need it, keep it.  But if you only have it because you would feel guilty getting rid of it, or because “it’s a set”, or because society has told you that you need it… Toss it.

You’d be surprised how much crap you have that you don’t really care about.  And also how much impact that one thing might be having on your life.

Think of how much money you could save… Not just on impulse spending, but on subscriptions, DEBT, even monthly bills and utilities… Do you really need “unlimited everything”?  Or that storage unit?  Or DirecTV?

All of this stuff is designed to keep you inside.  Entertained.  Sheep.

Imagine if you got rid of everything… You would spend more time outside.  Doing stuff!  Isn’t that exactly what you want for your kids anyway?

Moms… Think of how much CLEANING you could cut out of your day… I know you’re scared to even let that tiny ray of hope enter your mind, but I’m being serious.  If you could just cut your dishes and laundry in HALF, wouldn’t you jump on that?  We’ve kept everything we need, and what we actually want to wear.  We got rid of the things we only wore because they were there.  We cut down on dishes by only keeping what we need for the day… Which means rinsing your cup and using it all day.  Most of your dishes are in the sink because something else was already dirty.  Think about that.

Also, the toys and clutter… At 7 months pregnant, I had really gotten fed up with picking stuff up off the floor.  All.  Day.  Long.  But since we have gotten rid of everything they don’t actually play with often, and everything else we didn’t need in the house… I have so much less to straighten up around the house.  And it’s easier to get the kids to clean up their messes, too.

Not to mention, my house looks cleaner.  It took a little while to get used to it looking so empty (compared to before)… But now it’s so relaxing.  My office is bare, except for my desk and lamp (and the window).  It’s my favorite room in the house.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

A big problem today is, we live our lives looking too much at everyone else, and what they have… Instead of being content with what we have.  We look at popular styles, home décor shows, how big our neighbors’ houses are… And we feel less because we don’t have what they have.  We see buying new stuff and having MORE as a sign of success.  And I’m tired of it.  I don’t even like decorations… All the clutter on my counters has always bugged me.  I’m finally giving myself permission to feel that way and get rid of it.

As for “minimalism”.  It’s a lifestyle that lets you focus on what YOU want out of life, and not what anyone else says you should want.  It’s more about experiences, teaching your kids what’s important in life.  Letting them know that it’s okay to have hopes and dreams.  It’s about LESS STRESS and less feeling so overwhelmed… And as a mom, with two kids and about to have a newborn baby… That’s the biggest thing for me.